by loving friends and family of Mary Bellis
Margaret Mary Bellis’s love of children is rumoured to have begun as the second child of six. Mary’s genuineness, curiosity, friendliness, compassion and loyalty to her family, friends and colleagues are legendary and reminiscent of the attributes of one who was raised in a large family. Her curiosity, sense of adventure, outgoingness and adaptability are likely linked to having a father who was a Wing Commander with the RCAF, as this meant she and her family experienced life in multiple cities across Canada. Upon her father’s retirement in 1962, the Bellis family relocated to the Vancouver area from Ottawa, finally settling in Burnaby in 1964.
Mary’s passion as a caregiver was a large part of what drove her to choose nursing as her profession. Mary went to nursing school at St. Michael’s in Lethbridge, Alberta in 1970. Her first nursing job was as a pediatric nurse at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops in 1973, finally moving back to Burnaby to work at the VGH’s Health Centre for Children in the mid-1970s. Mary’s dedication to lifelong learning was evident early in her career when she pursued a specialty certification in neurological nursing from Foothill’s Hospital in Calgary, AB. Mary returned to BC and moved from VGH to BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) when it opened in 1982, where she worked until her retirement. She was a pioneer in family centered care before it was labelled as such. Mary recognized the impact an intensive care unit had on children and their families and she made it her mission to create a warm, child friendly environment for the children and their families. Mary role modelled excellence in her clinical skills, decision making and communication while caring for her patients and their families.